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Please understand, Europe: Nintendo delays Captain Toad into 2015

Jonathan Lester
Financial reports, Nintendo

Please understand, Europe: Nintendo delays Captain Toad into 2015

6.68 Wii Us sold as of June 30th

"Please understand." Nintendo's boilerplate apology has felt like a distant memory of late following a resurgent year for the Wii U and a cracking E3 performance, but the latest quarterly financial report reveals that us Europeans won't be able to play the Wii U's biggest Christmas release before year's end. A shame, perhaps, because stonking sales of Mario Kart 8 haven't quite managed to pull the company out of another operating loss.

Let's rip the bandage off immediately. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker has been delayed into January 2015 here in the PAL region, despite other territories receiving the exciting puzzler in the holiday season. No reason has been given for the delay, perhaps beyond a fear of the tax and workload implications of earning all that extra money. Scratch one off the list, then.

Thus ends the genuine 'news' bit that actually affects us gamers. Unless you own shares in Nintendo, or for some reason feel that you have a personal stake in sales figures for massive trans-national corporations, I suggest that you bug out and read some of our exciting coverage about games.

Okay. Let's do this. Treasure Tracker's delay will put the focus squarely on Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 2 and Super Smash Bros Wii U to shift consoles, alongside the excellent previously-released lineup. The Amiibo NFC figure line is also slated to arrive this year, and will presumably be heavily marketed in terms of its cross-platform character transfer functionality with Super Smash Bros. If Super Smash Bros' Wii U version arrives in the holiday season, pushing back Treasure Tracker might actually be a smart move.

On the subject of "excellent previously-released" titles, Mario Kart 8 managed to sell over 2.82 million copies during its first  month on sale -- as the figures are accurate up to June 30th. Quarterly Wii U sales spiked to 510,000 consoles worldwide during the quarter as a result of the long-awaited system seller. This is a spectacular figure for a console exclusive on hardware with 6.68 million unit install base, and richly deserved too, but sadly sales of £431m couldn't avert a £54.7m loss over the three month period.

We suspect that July sales will continue to increase due to gamers taking advantages of bundles and the Mario Kart 8 free game promotion.

So as far as the rest of the year is concerned, the 3DS once again poised to save the day like a plastic knight in stereoscopic armour. Its version of Super Smash Bros, along with Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby, will effectively pump enormous sums of money directly from our wallets into Nintendo's coffers (not to mention plenty of smaller and niche games headed to the platform). As it stands, the 3DS has now shifted 44.14 million consoles, and personally is still my favourite gaming platform du jour.

Here are the hardware sales as they stand.

Please understand, Europe: Nintendo delays Captain Toad into 2015

We're currently loving the Wii U and its sensational games library, though it will be interesting to see whether Nintendo will be able to build on this initial excitement throughout the rest of 2014 and beyond -- and translate that into more Wii U console sales.

With luck we'll be too busy playing great games to worry about the numbers.

Add a comment9 comments
Anarchist  Jul. 30, 2014 at 12:16

Despite the obvious success and greatness of the 3DS, the software to hardware ratio seems to me, to be incredibly low, at LESS than 4 games per device. Dwarfed by even the Wii U's paltry 6 games per device.

Is this mostly down to a huge majority of people who just buy a 3DS for pokemon, or who get them for Christmas only for them to go into a cupboard forever? Just doesn't seem quite like the success story they are made out to be, from the figures.

JonLester  Jul. 30, 2014 at 12:26

@Anarchist: Interesting point, that!

"Is this mostly down to a huge majority of people who just buy a 3DS for pokemon, or who get them for Christmas only for them to go into a cupboard forever?"

Yes, IMO. I suspect that all of this is true to some extent, since the 3DS is often (and justifiably, given Ninty's marketing) seen by more casual customers as a toy as opposed to a game console. As such, I bet that plenty of kids/fans get one at Christmas with Pokemon or somesuch, then forget about it in due course.

However, I also reckon that a major factor is the staggering length/quantity/replay value of most flagship 3DS games. With Pokemon, you're looking at between 20-40 hours of campaign before really hitting the metagame, which has been expanded with all the convenient online elements. If you get stuck into trading, breeding and competitive battling, you won't need another game for ages.

Animal Crossing? It's the devil. There's always more Animal Crossing. Then factor in Fire Emblem Awakening... and Super Dream Team Bros that lasts 40 freaking hours... and the glorious Bravely Default... and then all the localised JRPGs like Etrian Odyssey... and Zelda... oh my.

As a handheld gaming fanatic, I often play 3DS instead of home consoles/PC at home, but if you only use it for travelling/commutes/holidays, I don't reckon you'll need all that many games to fill up the time.

EDIT: The DS only managed 6 games per console owner throughout its lifespan - I suspect the same factors applied there too.

Last edited by JonLester, Jul. 30, 2014 at 12:44
Anarchist  Jul. 30, 2014 at 12:47

but if you only use it for travelling/commutes/holidays, I don't reckon you'll need all that many games to fill up the time.

This I can understand. But I guess this possibly makes them a victim of their own success. Its a difficult balancing act I suppose. If this were true they could put less hours worth of gameplay into their first party games, and potentially sell more games (at the expense of selling less devices - as they are seen to be not as good value).

Still. I'm still looking for a good offer on a Wii U with MK8, keep just missing them :\

JonLester  Jul. 30, 2014 at 13:03

I reckon the key is that, even with loads of content, 3DS games are still incredibly (comparatively!) cheap for Nintendo to make. The platform's graphical limitations and our much more forgiving attitude toward handheld visuals/gameplay experience means that art teams can be smaller, budgets can be more aggressive and development can be focused on systems and adding more content.

As such, they probably only need lots of people to buy a few games to break even.

Last edited by JonLester, Jul. 30, 2014 at 13:05
Late  Jul. 30, 2014 at 13:15

The DS only managed 6 games per console owner throughout its lifespan - I suspect the same factors applied there too.

I suspect the ridiculous ease of software piracy on the platform is at least partly to blame for it's low attachment.
You'll get piracy on most platforms but it's not been as accessible to all and sundry since the Spectrum/C64 days.

I'm not sure if it's the same on the 3DS, as I don't know anyone IRL who has one, but I seem to recall an announcement from DSTT or similar in Asia on the day that the 3DS was announced saying that they have everything cracked and are beginning production of a 3DS card that'll allow you to easily put illegal game roms on.

JonLester  Jul. 30, 2014 at 13:57

@Late: Aye, that was definitely an issue on DS that Ninty blamed for a 50% decrease in European sales at one point. However, the system thrived well enough, especially compared to the PSP that basically folded once 3rd parties jumped ship.

AFAIK the 3DS is much tougher to design R4-style magicoms around and contains built-in safeguards. Seriously, there's a 'Kill Switch' that irrevocably bricks the console if it even suspects foul play.

Though... there are some devices around IIRC. I think that the fear of immediate hardware destruction is enough to curtail sales quite effectively, mind.

EDIT: I'm always a little dubious about the real impact of piracy when it comes to certain systems. It's currently blasting Android's worth as a serious gaming platform, but Nintendo... I'm not entirely sure. Seems like using an R4 is just too much hassle for a lot of kids and casual customers, who see the device as a toy and make up a vast proportion of the install base, while most of the R4 owners I knew still bought physical copies of the big games that interested them and used the device for titles they'd otherwise not have bothered shelling out for - and often didn't even play them. Not a justification I agree with, but a point I often hear.

Having never owned an R4 myself, I can't say that with any real certainty though.

What Nintendo ought to do is relax region-locking ASAP. Currently import fans are faced with the decision of buying an entirely new and separate console, footing all the extra duties and delivery fees, or just grabbing some sort of flashcard. They need to think this through and soon.

Last edited by JonLester, Jul. 30, 2014 at 14:20
MattGardner  Jul. 30, 2014 at 14:29

Not happy about this delay. Was really looking forward to enjoying a spot of treasure tracking over the Christmas hols because next spring will be PACKED!

Late  Jul. 30, 2014 at 15:18

Off the top of my head, I know six people with DS-Lites.
One in her 60s - has two original games (one came bundled, one was a gift).
One in his 40s - has no original games (had one bundled but sold it still sealed).
Four in their teens - one of whom has three original games (from before they knew about acecard/dstt/r4), three have no original games (two of those three sold their bundled games still sealed, the other got the console without a bundled game).

All six have dodgy flash cards with hundreds of games on. Most of those games have been played for five minutes or less, and none of them ever takes the card out (other than to maybe put new roms on).

None of those six is actually much of a handheld gamer. In fact, most of them only got the console because they knew games were effectively free. (So you could argue Nintendo made money selling five consoles they never would have sold were it not for the existence of piracy. Yeah, it's a very shaky argument.) And I don't think any of the six machines has been turned on in years.

Of course, piracy's bad, and I definitely wouldn't condone or try to justify it. Not only is it illegal, but it's also morally wrong. Mkay.

And I've probably taken us further off topic than we already were; as well as appearing to be the asshat who argues that piracy's fine - when in reality I really don't agree with it at all.

JonLester  Jul. 30, 2014 at 15:33

@Late: Cheers for that! Didn't really have much data or personal experiences to draw on myself, that's interesting to know.

Oh, we're all about going off topic if the discussion's interesting. This one's a doozy. And the black and white ethics of 'piracy' become rather complicated when you bring the entire practice of emulation, region-locking, conservation and backups of previously-purchased software into the equation.

Piracy is bad, mmmkay, I agree. Except in the rare occasions when it isn't, because sometimes it isn't technically piracy at all. Oh gawd. I think I explain that better here.

In the spirit of on-topic discussion, though... so about that Captain Toad delay then. Shocking.

Last edited by JonLester, Jul. 30, 2014 at 15:37

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